I think it’s useful to mix up my routine. Don’t always write in the morning, try at night or the afternoon. Don’t always write at your desk, switch to the kitchen table, the bedroom. Even better, try a park. My mind is constantly shifting depending on time and place. Doing this allows me to find various shades in characters or scenes.
I’m a different person at night from when I wake. I may be a little more tired and that mood colors how I write. I think it layers my work, makes it more complex. I think it prevents my work from getting stale.
Biography of Noel Alumit: Noel Alumit wrote the novels, Letters to Montgomery Clift, and Talking to the Moon. He blogs at: www.thelastnoel.blogspot.com.
Here, the object is to enrich the language of your poetry and perhaps also trick yourself into writing a poem you wouldn’t have otherwise. Sometimes it’s a poem your subconscious has been holding in its storage unit – you just needed the right key. Open a dictionary at random, here and there, chose sensory, evocative words that you’ve never used in your poems, a selection of nouns, verbs and adjectives—words like puma, swagger and frothy, or gingerbread, captivate and fluorescent. Add a mineral or precious stone, a celestial body, and a commercial brand name. Now steal three words from a poet whose work you love (but make sure they’re not the poet’s signature words. If it’s Plath don’t take “bald,” “hooks,” “moon”). Put them on scraps of paper and choose a few blind. Now, instead of starting with a topic or event then searching for the right words, you’ll let the words lead you to the poem’s subject. Don’t be literal; don’t put everything in its logical context. Go for the image, use the words in unpredictable ways, and mix them into areas where one wouldn’t expect to see such words. Good luck. Viva Poetry.
Biography of Suzanne Lummis: Suzanne Lummis, in a program funded by the NEA, is one of fifty writers selected to represent Los Angeles at the 2009 Guadalajara International Book Fair. Her poems appear in California Poetry from the Gold Rush to the Present (Heyday Books), Poems of the American West (Knopf), Place as Purpose: Poetry of the Western States (Autry/Sun & Moon), and in major literary publications in the U.S. and U.K. Work is forthcoming in The New Ohio Review. She teaches several levels of poetry through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has developed classes on the Poem Noir (“Poetry Goes to the Movies”), the persona poem and the socio-political poem. “In Danger,” a collection of poetry, was published by Heyday Books as part of The California Poetry Series.
If you were a mother living in Gaza or Ashkelon…
Biography of Majid Naficy:
Majid Naficy, the author of more than 20 books in Persian, fled Iran in 1983, a year and a half after the execution of his wife, Ezzat, in Evin prison. He has published two collections of poetry Muddy Shoes
(Beyond Baroque Books 1999) and Father and Son
(Red Hen Press 2003) as well as his doctoral dissertation Modernism and Ideology in Persian Literature
(University Press of America 1997) in English. You may read his poem “My Neighbor Goes to the Zoo” at http://www.iranian.com/main/2009/sep/my-neighbor-goes-zoo
One favorite prompt of mine frequently arrives unbidden when I am in a new or unfamiliar location. The sights and smells of some place that is not “home” never fails to compel me to pick up a pen to write the words that will allow me to savor the extraordinary experience over and over again. I wrote Blur so that I could happily relive the week I spent in Italy’s Tuscany region; the first stanza of that poem is re-printed below:
—or so the sunflowers seemed
as we trekked mile after mile
in a Chevy tassí, from Sienna to
Montepulciano where everything
is humility and Mary, Mary and
genuflection; where air tastes olive
in our nostrils; mud’s improbably
silk on our hands and history is
the color of a cheap, true chianti—
I recommend that poets look—truly look—at their surroundings, be they familiar or new, in order to bring a fresh re-vision to their work.
Biography of Lynne Thompson: Lynne Thompson’s Beg No Pardon won the 2007 Perugia Press First Book Award (www.perugiapress.com) and the 2008 Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award. Her work has appeared in the Indiana Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Margie . In 2009, her poem, Voice, was commissioned by Emory University.